MOSCOW—Russian elite have a long-lasting passion for palaces and kitsch interior designs in the fashion of Marie Antoinette’s Versailles. Villa owners love to show off their own versions of glamorous and extravagant style of pre-revolutionary France, overloading homes with golden décor, massive crystal lamps, marble floors and heavy royal staircases. But there is one phenomenon currently inspiring discussions among psychologists, historians and corruption fighters: The post-Soviet obsession with golden toilets.
As it turns out, one such golden toilet owner is the head of traffic police in Stavropol region, Colonel Aleksey Safonov, who became the town clown this week after getting arrested on corruption charges, after which photos of his ultra-extravagant house were leaked and shared widely. Known for bragging about fighting corruption at work, Safanov had even spoken in front of cameras about policemen’s temptation to take bribes: “Unfortunately, some police inspectors cannot resist the offer,” he told local reporters. Then the colonel would take bribes, return home, cross his glamorous lobby floored with what seems like dangerously slippery marble, and ascend up his royal staircase to a giant bathroom with a golden toilet seat and matching golden bidet.
Safonov and his employees are accused of taking a $254,889 bribe and forging fake documents for transportation companies in the Stavropol region. The National Guard of Russia and Interior Ministry forces arrested more than 30 police officers in a special operation on Monday, according to RIA Novosti. The public official’s “golden palace turned out cooler than palaces of some Tsars in the past,” Moskovskij Komsomolets newspaper said on Monday.